If we could only thank all the people who've made a difference in our lives, what a wonderful world it would be.
Tony Seepersad, scholarship chair of Homestead Community Concerts, tells a version of his gratitude story each year at the conclusion of the Music Scholarship Showcase, when he presents the top prize to a young musician.
"The Carmen Seepersad Memorial Scholarship is presented by my family as an honoring of all the parents of these young kids who sacrifice so much to give their children their dreams. After losing my mother in 2015, I started to realize how much my widowed, single mother sacrificed for me to have my music career,” he said in an email.
“All of our scholarships are sponsored by private community members, most of which are middle class citizens of the Homestead area,” Seepersad said. “Each sponsor donates on behalf of someone meaningful in their life, past or present, or for the purpose of bringing awareness to a platform.”
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After each performance the sponsor gives a short speech about why they are giving the award and how they hope it benefits the winner.
“It creates a deeply emotional experience for the artist, donor, and audience,” Seepersad said.
“The final message comes from me and acknowledges the hard work of the students, but also the gratitude they should have for their parents and for their teachers and the thousands of other people that all came together to contribute to their career — from the first teacher that exposed them to music, to volunteer No. 12 at the summer camp they attended whom they will never know,” he said.
The winners who played at the fourth annual showcase concert May 19 at the historic Seminole Theatre in Homestead thanked their families and community with their passion for music.
First place was Lindsey Yang, 15; second place was Esther Chae, 16; and third place was Jack Kessler, 16.
Honorable Mention awards went to Laura Liu, 17; Hector Padilla, 18; Daniela Montero, 17; and Ian Barnett, 13.
“The youngest performer, Honorable Mention award winner violinist Ian Barnett, has already performed the national anthem at four Miami Heat games, made his debut in Carnegie Hall as a first prize winner of an international competition, and is also an award winning composer … all at the age of 13 years old,” Seepersad said.
Another Honorable Mention winner, Daniela, recently immigrated to Miami from Cuba and is finding her way in the music world here while learning English and acclimating to her new life, he said. She played an emotional performance of the Violin Concerto No. 3 in B minor by Camille Saint-Saens.
Seepersad has been teaching in Miami-Dade County for almost 20 years. He is also the vice president of the Friends of the Historic Seminole Theatre. He said the showcase was comprised of three violinists, two violists, a cellist, and a pianist. The event is open to every instrument within the orchestral family.
“I don't know if our city has produced two violists finer than Jack Kessler and Laura Liu. Laura performed a contemporary piece, ‘Sonata for Viola and Piano’ by George Rochberg, with maturity beyond her years,” he said. “Jack contrasted that with a dazzling rendition of ‘La Campanella’ transcribed for viola and piano by the virtuoso Italian composer and violinist Niccolo Paganini.”
Cellist Esther Chae, whom Seepersad called “a true child prodigy,” placed second after competing and winning first place two years ago. She had to take a year off before she could compete again.
“This year, through a margin narrower than the eye of a needle, she was edged out of first place by 15-year-old pianist Lindsey Yang. Lindsey was our third place winner last year and has made strides in her technique and artistry,” Seepersad said.
Honorable Mention winner Hector Padilla “adeptly navigated through Samuel Barber's deeply profound violin concerto adding that element of Romantic meets Contemporary music. His audition with that piece earned him the Lois Burgay Memorial Scholarship, which was the most interesting scholarship of the evening," Seepersad said.
The Seminole Theatre was built in 1921 and it used to be a silent movie house. Lois Burgay was the pianist/organist in the 1920s.
“Her daughter is currently on our board at Homestead Community Concerts and wanted to continue supporting the young artists performing at the theatre that started with her mother nearly a hundred years ago. How cool is that?" Seepersad said.
“The HCC Scholarship Showcase is not just about recognizing talented kids, it's about how the arts can bring communities together to help change our world to a more beautiful, enlightened, and compassionate place to live in.”
Artist honors Nobel Prize novel
Colombian artist and printmaker Pedro Villalba Ospina has dedicated more than 22 years of his life to creating an illustrated representation — in drawings and etchings — to honor the literary classic “One Hundred Years of Solitude” by Gabriel García Márquez.
His work can be seen in the main gallery, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Mondays through Fridays until Aug. 23, at the FIU Miami Beach Urban Studios, 420 Lincoln Rd., Suite 440. This exhibit is free and open to the public.
“One Hundred Years of Solitude Turns 50” offers a new visual dimension to the novel that won the 1982 Nobel Prize for Literature.
The novel “interprets all human feelings, which are not many, but that are repeated in each individual, in the history of each character and according to their own temperament,” Villalba Ospina said in an email. “That human spirit captivated me since my adolescence, when I started to understand the author’s work and I found glimpses of my own emotions in it.”
He said every illustration has been drawn with the best effort to represent the novel.
In addition to the drawings, through the years Villalba Ospina became a highly qualified printmaker. He used cotton paper from Casa Fabriano imported from Italy, and printed each page with a XIX manual British press, Hopkinson & Cope, 1878. You can see a video showing the printing process at the exhibit. Learn more at http://pedrovillalbaospina.com.